Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Do manufactured homes have to be ugly as hell?

Is there an unwritten rule I'm missing? What is it about the architects who work for manufactured home companies that their home exteriors are often so bad? Why can’t they produce more homes that look like this?

It’s the Sunset Cottage, by Palm Harbor Homes. It's 620 sq. ft. of perfection! Sometimes I look back at posts of houses I liked and think, what did I see in that? That's not going to happen with this one. I loved the Sunset Cottage the first time I saw a photo of it. Best thing, it's a not a park model, so it has the size to be livable and maybe can be made with 2 x 6 walls. I'm not sure about that.

This also comes in a 2 bedroom 806 sq. ft version called the Sunset Cottage II. They both come in either modular or manufactured versions.

I understand that doing the cottage look this well adds to the price, and oh well, I like a lot of other Palm Harbor small home interiors better anyway. No home can be perfect, interior and exterior. When you have to choose between interior function and attractiveness over exterior, obviously, inside is where you have to live, and build quality and materials are even more important.

Nearly all homes, manufactured or not, don’t look their best without skirting or a foundation of some sort, and I realize that sometimes when I see photos of new models and laugh, they may not look so bad with skirting (or a foundation) instead of a gaping dark space underneath. The really good looking ones though, like the Sunset Cottage, look good even with a gaping dark space underneath.


Here's a photo of your more typical singlewide. Looks like it could use some freshening up.

 Incidentally, you can click on any image of my blog to see it large size, and then scroll through all the images using the forward and back arrow keys on your keyboard.

I was thinking, what possessed someone at Solitaire Homes to think these snazzy shutters look good? They produced their whole freaking line of homes this way. They look silly!

 Yet with a few brush strokes on Photoshop, or in reality with a quart of paint, and goofy shutters can be transformed to simple and fine:

Solitaire uses a faux shutter incorporated in the trim wood surrounding a window. It's a downright clever idea. In that way decorative shutters don’t need to be attached and they won’t fall off or rattle in the wind.  

Perhaps because of the plainness of their homes, Solitaire wanted to give their homes a signature look so people who see them know—that’s a Solitaire. This is an older model of theirs, which I think was called The Playing Card:

Kind of corny. Things that can be fixed so easily aren’t a problem. However, if they make mistakes like the shutter colors, it makes you wonder about some of their other choices.

Solitaire makes a plain but fairly handsome singlewide home. I like how they align the windows at the top and use vertical siding, and that the homes have some eaves, even if they overhang only 6 inches. Inside, they use drywall on all of their homes and 2 x 6 walls are standard on the doublewides. It's an option the singlewides.Their homes are of good quality, but with interiors a little behind the times, and the prices are good but not the most affordable.

Partly because they have a factory in New Mexico, and therefore delivery would be less, I would put them near the top of my list of brands to check out if I were looking for a new manufactured home.

There are more significant errors manufacturers make, and a lot of those can’t be fixed by an owner using a can of paint. On lower end singlewides, something like changing 7 ft. sidewalls to 7’6” sidewalls could transform the interior of some of these homes, along with changing the roof pitch up to 3/12 rather than 2/12. But when the mandate is making them as affordable as possible at the low end, I guess I understand where they have to cut costs somewhere.

My theory is that designers/architects, even good ones, fall in love with their creations as they are doing them and they can’t see things as someone would who was looking at them for the first time, or even as they would see it if they were looking at it for the first time.

After looking at the Solitaire goofy multi-colored shutters for a minute, I began to like them more, instead of thinking they were just a laughable mistake. I still like the solid color shutters better.

Palm Harbor is the brand with the most consistently good looking homes, interior and exterior, including sometimes the lower end homes, although I don’t like the Velocity line at all, which is their newest brand at the cheap end. I don’t like either the interior or the exterior on the Velocity homes.

Ironically, Palm Harbor, with all those good looking designs, went bankrupt several years ago but continues as a brand under the Cavco mother ship.

And some of their homes are just smashing looking, such as the large La Linda, although that one looks better in drawings than reality. And then there are some so nice which just makes me want them, like this Sunset Cottage which I Photoshopped from a parking lot to a lake. It’s so beautiful it makes me hate myself for being too poor to afford it.

Yet, I’m okay with my house now, because I found the roof leak that drove me crazy for years. Aggravation over water dripping and sometimes pouring in my house rekindled my fantasies of owning a manufactured home at that time, and that’s when I began blogging about Clayton’s i-house years ago. Then again, I’ve been looking at homes, manufactured and otherwise, on the Internet, for as long as they’ve been on the Internet.

Now that the i-house flopped, sold so poorly they no longer make it, I can admit I was never crazy in love with that house. I liked many things about it though, and I was fascinated with how completely different it was. The living room and kitchen area were beautiful. That guest house would have been great, for guests, not me. I’d have old friends and neighbors dropping in from everywhere if I owned something like that. Now I tell them they can bring a tent and pitch it in the goat pen.

If I’m going to dream about homes now, I should dream about a passive house, because they are the simplest and the best. Architect and writer Lloyd Alter writes here about why stupid homes, like passive homes, are smarter than smart homes with roofs full of expensive solar panels. Passive homes are the most comfortable of all to live in.

Maybe one day they’ll get a 3D printer to poop one out for practically nothing. I probably won’t be around then. In the meantime, I’ll work on appreciating where I live and my house as it is, while still dreaming about passive houses, and the Sunset Cottage, of course, along with sailboats and airplanes. I’m never going to own one of those either, and perhaps that’s just as well.


  1. What do you think of the Skyline MKicro for $19,900

    The next size up is the Springfield which is 546sqft but that cost aprox $36k which made no sense.

    The Micro only available from the Oregon Skyline factory so I'd have to go up there to see it.
    But at least Skyline has upgraded the construction to 2x6 which is the same as all their other models.

    Here is the cost for some of the upgrades:
    8.5' inside flat roof 1208
    shut off valves 162
    gas furnace 365
    gas water heater 600
    gas stove microwave dishwasher 900
    California brake axles 152
    plywood subfloor (not T&G) 1350
    shower with 2 seats glass door 440

    After some of the other manufacturer dealers I've spoken with, I really appreciate that the guy had no problem quoting prices for whatever I asked! The shipping to N. Cal is $5-7k.

    I tried posting this twice before and each time it just vanished so I apologize in advance if you get 3 similar posts

  2. It's cute. I especially like the eaves on all sides. The wider dimension on the edge of the roof make it look substantial and not trailer-like. For that price, yes, it'd be something you want to see. I like the vaulted ceiling. It adds character to a small space like that. It's a little bigger than a park model but without the low park model specs.

  3. Funny you should like the eaves since they will probably get cut back! the eaves are 8" in the picture but would have to be cut back to 6" so it would be under the 15' max width allowed on the highway in CA otherwise there is a substantial extra shipping charge (which I didn't ask about). To add insult to injury, Skyline CHARGES $600 to cut the eaves back by 2".
    The vaulted ceiling starts at 7.5' at the side walls and the only way to have higher ceilings is to have a flat ceiling. That is definitely a bummer.

    The cost of the next bigger model is so much higher that I think it would make more sense to hire someone to add on a room to the Micro so I'm now researching how to add on a room to a mobile home!

  4. Great to find a article on this point. We are looking into property / manufactured home in Western Colorado, it has been a tough search with so many blah options.

    I have been a fan of shed roof designs (big windows & views to the south), and it finally hit me, a single wide is ideal for this. I did see that Luxe model out of Canada, anything you have found that meets the requirements of high-country living with a clean shed design?

    1. http://greenottersmanufacturedhomereviews.blogspot.com/2017/02/the-loft-modern-singlewide-shed-roof.html

      Hi Scott,

      Did you see my post on this one, THE LOFT, by Palm Harbor? Problem is only certain models by Palm Harbor are built for the Colorado market and I'm not sure if this is one of them.

      This doesn't have a window wall but these days most manufacturers are pretty flexible in window placement and they might be able to do that for you.

      The people in the Oregon, Washington and Northern California have the best selection.

  5. No manufactured homes are not ugly in my opinion. You can get newly constructed new homes for sale Toronto to live, Thanks for sharing such a nice post keep sharing.